Israel has quietly sent messages to Jordan promising to maintain the "status quo" on the Temple Mount, sources said Wednesday, with the timing attuned to the upcoming Passover holiday.
Jewish holidays typically see greater violence on the Mount. Ironically, however, the message surfaces before Passover specifically – a holiday centering upon the Jewish people's freedom from foreign oppressors.
During meetings between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and security officials, all in attendance agreed that the State of Israel would prefer to see Passover come and go quietly and without provocations.
It was made clear, however, that the security establishment would not limit Jewish visitors to the Mount during the holiday – a statement following reports of a deal between Netanyahu and Jordan's King Abdullah II to reduce the number of visitors to the Mount. Despite this, MKs and ministers still face a ban on visiting Judaism's holiest site.
Security officials made clear that there would be "zero tolerance" for any attempt to inflame tensions on the Mount. At the same time, officials have been working with the Arabic-language media to send 'calming' messages about the Mount, after months of incitement within PA media and from PA officials over the site.
Signing away rights?
Despite its significance in Judaism, Amman's de facto control of the site prevents Jews from enjoying freedom of worship or even visiting the Mount.
Israeli police, in an attempt to appease the Muslim Waqf which was left in charge of the Temple Mount compound after the 1967 Six Day War, ban Jews from praying or performing any other form of worship.
But what little sovereignty Israel does have over the site may have been signed away during a 2014 meeting with Netanyahu and Abdullah, Arutz Sheva learned this week.
In 2015, for the first time in five years, there has been a marked decrease in the number of Jewish visitors permitted to visit the Mount – the holiest site in Judaism. 11,001 Jews ascended the Mount in 2015, compared to 11,724 in 2014. For comparison, 5,658 Jews ascended the Mount in 2009.